I'd like to hear from a few of the people who contributed to Fast & Furious's staggering $71 million gross over the weekend. Why did you go? What were you expecting, and did you get it?

See, I'm not in the camp of critics who detest this film and this franchise. But I also think that it cannot possibly be taken at face value. Fast & Furious, with its story of a daredevil FBI agent/street racer who has to go undercover to bust up a drug smuggler who regularly holds elaborate street races on the streets of Los Angeles, complete with hordes of women who are gyrating constantly, doesn't just strain credulity, it rips credulity apart with its teeth. It exists to be laughed at. And as such, it sort of works -- I spent most of the movie chuckling merrily under my breath. Fast & Furious is a constant parody of itself, and I am sure that Justin Lin -- an intelligent, skilled filmmaker -- knows that.

But that alone won't get you to $71 million. The most obvious possibility is that people went for the cars and scantily-clad females, in which case I wonder what they made of the film's sagging midsection, which contains more absurd macho brooding than anything else. (I also wonder where they were for the underperforming Tokyo Drift, which I'd suggest was more entertaining in this respect.) The fact that the franchise's box-office resurgence coincides with the return of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker also suggests, disturbingly, that some folks actually see this as the compelling saga of Dom Torreto and Brian O'Conner, as if those were actual characters. "Nothing matters unless you have a code," etc. Will anyone fess up to that? (Not that I am judging you. Well, maybe a little.)
I will say one thing in the film's non-ironic defense: that truck-hijacking opening sequence that featured prominently in the trailer is pretty fantastic: cleverly staged, well-edited and lucid. So maybe that was it.